Tag Archives: baking

The croquembouche journey (gf)

For those of you who saw and appreciated my pastry creation at the TBA fundraiser I didn’t just casually create it. I actually started working on it in July…

This summer I was approached about making a special dessert for a fundraiser auction and it needed to be spiffier than cake-pops. What to do?

Nick at the 4th of July BBQ: “Hey, have you ever made a croquembouche?” I’d never even heard of them before that, so I googled it, and watched Zumbo’s Just Desserts, and said, “Wow! That looks like fun.”

I’d already been making eclairs from gf choux dough for several years so I thought profiteroles (mini-cream puffs) would be pretty easy. For my first run at it I tried the recipe here; Jasmyne Tea to see what I could learn from her recipe. I learned that her recipe makes about 250 profiteroles, not 100 and her custard is too stiff and a bit bland. I remixed the custard with more milk and vanilla so it would flow a little better and served half of them at a company picnic and sold the rest at the Saturday Market which made one little girl who had been recently diagnosed as celiac very happy.

I decided to go back to my original choux dough recipe and work with that for my profiteroles.


I’d never worked with hot sugar….did a lot of reading, watched a few videos, asked some people with more experience…and made certain to have a bowl of cold water with ice cubes in it near me at all times.I wasn’t sure how strong the sugar would be so I poured it into these molds pretty thickly….

Initially I wanted to build a stepped tower like the contestants on Zumbo’s did, but that didn’t really work out. It was very difficult to get the profiteroles to stack up neatly, small variances in size will work against neatness, and I believe a cold air gun would have been very handy to help the sugar-mortar set up faster.

20180822_161851Everything was kind of slipping around, burning my fingers, and then I tried putting on the first disk level. The weight of the first level was just too much for the un-set hot sugars and profiteroles below it and just slid over to one side. Time to rethink.

I went back to the Jasmyne Tea blog post to review how she had built her profiterole tower and she had used an inverted parking cone to hold everything in place. Genius!

I picked up a novelty cone at party supply warehouse and inverted it into a pitcher for stability. I also cleaned it thoroughly. 🙂

Having a frame work like this made it a lot easier to construct, far fewer moving parts. I still needed to work on consistent sizes for my profiteroles, but they were much closer in size to each other. I filled up the interior of the oiled cone with profiteroles and hot sugar…and didn’t wait for it to cool before I dumped it out of the cone.

Croquenbouche entryfacebook_1535745987569

The first picture is of my State Fair entry when I turned it in, it’s schlumping a bit because the foundation was the least set as it was the last parts I added. I also made small sugar stars using silicone molds and dipped forks into the hot sugar and draped sugar threads all around it. Unfortunately much of the thin sugar work dissolved on the drive out to the Fairgrounds. Did you know that sugar work attracts moisture and breaks down quickly in humid environments? I did not. The second picture is from the next day, I’m assuming I received a blue ribbon because the Judge saw it before it disentegrated. The one note the Judge gave was their was not enough vanilla flavoring in the creme filling, easy fix.

The day of the fundraiser arrived, I made the big and little stars the night before so they were ready. GF choux dough doesn’t really keep well so I made the profiterole shells fresh in the morning. While they were cooking I made the vanilla pudding, with extra cornstarch for stiffness, but not too stiff, and doubled up on the vanilla for flavor.

I ended up with 55 good profiteroles for the tower, there were 56 but I had to eat one for quality testing purposes. Melted more sugar, got a bowl of ice water and ice cubes ready, dipped and dropped profiteroles into the tower, only burned my fingers three times, very happy to have the bowl of ice water handy. Owwww! Ahhhh! Filled the tower and waited for everything to cool. And waited. And worried that the cooling sugar would glue itself to the inside of the tower…and dropped the whole tower gently out onto the table.


Ta-da! The plate it’s on looked a bit plain so I added a chocolate moat with white chocolate stars. And that’s it! People enjoyed demolishing and eating it after the banquet and my favorite moment was when it sold during the live auction for the same amount as the Mink stole.

Jillee Bread Good!


This really is the best GF bread recipe ever; https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/best-gluten-free-bread-recipe-ever but I had to make it a half dozen times to get it to behave consistently. I have also shortened the name from “GF bread that doesn’t suck” to “Jillee sandwich bread” in honor of the woman who developed the recipe.

What worked best for me, in my repeated attempts, was to let the dough rise for an hour, and it barely rises even then, and then bake for one hour. Less than an hours baking time left to much moist dough and the sides would collapse inwards. However, at one hour the top can get pretty brown so I also put a aluminum foil tent on top of the loaves at the 45 minute mark. Also, remember to scrape the bottom of the bowl halfway through mixing and check for clumping, it happens about half the time with this recipe.


Mmm, check out the cell structure on that slice, it looks like, well, like bread. 😀




It also didn’t work very well in a normal sized bread pan so I picked up a long pan from King Arthur Flour with high sides and that worked really well.

big loaf

I also found that I could split the dough (really more of a batter) into fourths and use a set of mini-loaf pans that I picked up at Bed Bath & Beyond to make four small tasty loaves with robust tops. This way I could gift them to other G-Free people more easily. Baking in the smaller tins still needed 55 minutes to be really cooked through.


My wife says it reminds her of Kings Hawaiian bread, that’s probably from the honey. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t had that bread in 30+ years and I don’t remember it having any flavor. She’s my official taste-tester when I’m trying to make things that taste “normal”.

I highly recommend this recipe, just be a little patient with it.

Bang the table Sticky Buns

sticky bun

It’s been a while since I posted about my progress as a gluten-free baker, but I have been making and eating many experiments since I last posted. I’ve made a list of GF baked items that I need to make, many of which are very basic, and top of the list was one of my wife’s favorites: Sticky Buns! I’ve never had sticky buns before so she was my official taster, and I made her a very happy taster. The recipe was based on this one from Gemma Stafford;


I substituted Namaste GF 1-for-1 flour (3 cups) and also added a little almond flour (1/2 cup) for better texture and moisture, instead of regular wheat flour. My wife is also allergic to Pecans so those are sliced almonds on top. It only makes a small batch and didn’t rise very much so I only had eight sticky buns for my test group (family & friends) to eat. Three of those testers banged the table in delight, so I assumed this to be a winner of a recipe.

Here are the ingredients with my substitution in place;

  • 1 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs , lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 3 cups GF 1-to-1 flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour

  • Caramel Topping and filling
  • ¾ cup butter, melted, plus more for sides of the pan
  • 1 ¼ cup brown sugar
  • cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups chopped almonds

I highly recommend perusing Gemma’s site and watching her videos as they are quite entertaining and educational.

Baker Bragging

This is a post bragging about my first weeks successes at the Sate Fair Baking Competition and what I entered for week two of the competition.

  • Cinnamon Rolls = 1st
  • Sourdough Sandwich Bread = 2nd
  • French Bread = 1st
  • Irish Soda Bread = 1st
  • Eclairs = 2nd
  • Maple Glazed Donuts = 1st

I’m very pleased with the cinnamon rolls taking a first place as they were not in the separate GF category, they beat out all other cinnamon roll entries. Likewise the Sourdough bread was in the general sourdough category and took second against wheat versions. The Irish Soda Bread, which I really enjoy, was in the GF quickbreads category, took 1st, but the Judge’s commentary was, “Good for gluten-free.” Kind of a back handed compliment, and exactly why I pushed myself to make tasty baked goods that could be enjoyed by everyone.

I moved way out of my comfort zone for some of the round two entries, and re-submitted the French Bread and Sourdough sandwich bread into different categories to see how well they stack up against the wheat bakers. Here are the new recipes;

Mini S’Mores Cakes

Mocha Roulade

Sourdough English Muffins

The Mini S’Mores Cakes and the Sourdough English Muffins are adapted from recipes available at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/

The Mocha Roulade is from the wonderful food blog; https://cookingupthepantry.wordpress.com/ I highly recommend both of these sites.

Here are my round two entries getting packed up to travel.